Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Christian leader Patriarch Bartholomew 1st have joined in prayer in an historic meeting in Istanbul. It came on the second day of the Pontiff’s visit to Turkey – a trip which the Vatican hopes will build bridges both with Orthodox Christianity and Islam.
During a mass earlier the Pope highlighted common ground between Christians and Muslims. A speech he made in September appeared to stress differences between the two faiths and the ensuing controversy has overshadowed the trip. He celebrated mass at a shrine said to be where the Virgin Mary lived out her last days.
Pope Benedict spoke of the devotion both religions had for the mother of Jesus Christ. He also called for peace and reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region. The Turkish government has praised what it regards as the conciliatory tone adopted by the Pontiff since his arrival yesterday. It also expressed appreciation for his apparent new support for Ankara’s bid to join the EU. But many in the largely Muslim country are angered by the visit and there have been protests against it.